Australia Day

Australia Day 2013 should have been full of barbecues, picnics, thong-throwing competitions, and happy families celebrating their pride in their country while newer residents proudly took their citizenship oath. But Cyclone Oswald lashed Queensland’s coast, creating six tornadoes and the biggest flood in Bundaberg’s recorded history. Thousands of homes were inundated, thirteen washed away, never to be found, others teetering on holes created by the torrent. Businesses suffered devastating losses, caught by Nature’s intensity and the Burnett River breaking its banks. Boats were washed away, some completely disappearing, some found days later as broken hulks on the rocky shore, debris scattered like broken dreams.

The town was in shock. But as the water receded and help flowed in, Bundabergians created their own Mud Army and went to work helping those whose lives had been traumatised.

One year later, the town has mostly recovered. Some businesses never re-opened, some houses never re-built, some folks still fighting insurance companies and unable to return to their homes, but the ghost-town atmosphere that pervaded North Bundaberg in the months following the flood has been replaced by a thriving community spirit.

So this Australia Day I reflected on that wonderful Aussie spirit, that pride in a country of extremes, from tropical rainforests, snow-covered mountain ranges, vast Outback plains that seem to be either in drought or flood. We started as a penal colony of convicts and guards and evolved into explorers and farmers and graziers and nation-builders. But it wasn’t easy. This is a harsh and often unforgiving land, and it took guts to try to conquer it.

It’s those aspects of the Australian landscape and psyche that I’ve tried to capture in my books. I love this unique land of ours and want to share it with my readers. In Dance with the Devil the rugged Great Dividing Range became as huge an obstacle for Emma and Drew to conquer as the killer who held an innocent life in his hands. In Black Ice a hit-and-run on the Sunshine Coast and a mud slide in the Blue Mountains nearly meant the end for Kirri and Daniel. Deadly Tide was a favourite to write, set as it was on a trawler off Bundaberg’s coast. Putting Sam and Chayse in such a confined space gave lots of opportunities for sparks to fly, and some unusual dangerous situations, and researching beautiful Lady Musgrave Island was no hardship for this dedicated writer J

Until Death was more citified, encompassing Brisbane, Sydney and the Hunter Valley region where Libby and Connor had to cope with a natural disaster as deadly as the killers hunting them.

Dangerous Deception allowed me to indulge in more exotic locations such as Central Queensland’s Carnarvon Gorge before bringing Breeanna and Rogan back to Melbourne. But I couldn’t resist having them go via the Gold Coast hinterland in a daring escape that has them jumping off a mountain.

Ladder to Amphitheatre tunnel entrance at Carnarvon Gorge

The plot of Fatal Flaw only allowed me to take a slight deviation from Brisbane’s suburbs, Chinatown, and nearby Mount Glorious, but it’s Mark’s trip to the sapphire diggings outside Emerald that gives him a clue to who wants to kill Julie’s father.

Grievous Harm (to be released later this year), traverses a lot of New South Wales and Queensland, and depicts the harshness and grandeur of the Outback. This is the darkest of all my novels, and I hope readers can forgive me for what I put Kate and John through. They really deserve their HEA.

What I also strived to do was give my heroes and heroines the kind of courage our early settlers had to have in order to survive. They have to battle not only the highs and lows of falling in love, but danger in various guises and a land that can be as deadly as any determined killer.

We didn’t have prawns (shrimp) on the barbie this Australia Day, but lamb chops (after all, Australia was supposed to ride on the sheep’s back at one stage in our history), and I counted my blessings that I live in this wonderful country that gives me such fabulous settings in which to tell my stories, and planned my next research trips to those states and territories I haven’t yet written about.

Please don’t give me a break …

because the one I have is enough. Unfortunately it’s not a publishing offer or anything wonderful like that, but a spiral fracture of the upper right arm. Dashed out of bed at 4am to close the windows when rain poured down, hooked my foot on the bed leg, and crashed into the wall. The bone may be called the humerus but I didn’t find it very funny at the time 🙂
So now I’m in plaster from shoulder to elbow, with a collar-and-cuff sling, and learning to do things with my left arm. Typing is slow but I’m getting there. Brushing my teeth is a different matter. Just like I can’t reverse a trailer on the car (I’m sure I’m spatially dyslexic), I couldn’t get my left hand to brush satisfactorily (okay, I know I’m paranoid when it comes to having clean teeth but be kind to me) so I asked my darling husband (who is showing patience I didn’t know he had – or maybe he’s feeling guilty because he left the windows open when it was stormy weather) to buy me an electric toothbrush. This resulted in another discovery – if you don’t like the speckled bathroom look, don’t turn on the brush before you put it in your mouth.

Having good friends is wonderful all the time, but especially when something like this happens. Because I’m plastered and trussed like a Christmas turkey, my gorgeous friend Lyn brought over several of her singlet tops which are a couple of sizes bigger than mine, cut the shoulder straps and sewed on velcro so I can step into one and my husband pulls it up and fastens it at the shoulders. One of her shirts goes around the bulky arm so I am at least looking presentable on trips to doctors etc.

After all the flooding and now the destruction from Cyclone Yasi, I feel bad even mentioning my arm problem, but wanted to explain why I’ve been so slack in blogging. I hope that everyone affected by the floods and the cyclone can recover as quickly as possible. My thoughts and prayers are with them. I’m anxiously waiting news about a friend in Innisfail as I haven’t been able to make contact with her. She and eight others sheltered in the bathroom while Cyclone Larry tore most of her house to shreds around them in 2006, so I’m hoping Yasi has spared her this time.